Northern California

Hayward Curb That Measured Earth's Movement Accidentally Fixed, Scientists Stunned

A faulty curb that illustrated the seismic forces at work on the Hayward Fault has been fixed, stunning scientists, who say a curbside laboratory for studying earthquakes was destroyed.

Since at least the 1970s, scientists have painstakingly photographed the curb at Rose and Prospect streets as the Hayward Fault pushed it farther and farther out of alignment.

"It gives the observer a really good idea of how the fault is moving and at what rate the fault was moving," said David Schwartz, a USGS geologist.

It was a constant reminder that someday, a massive earthquake would strike directly beneath the heavily populated Bay Area. Teachers even brought students to the corner to learn about earthquakes. Now all that history and all the measurements are gone.

"I sort of said, 'Wow.' I was surprised," Schwartz said. "I had no idea why it would be done."

Hayward officials said they didn't know the significance for geologists when they fixed the curb, which was part of a larger citywide project.

Assistant City Manager Kelly McAdoo said the curb and others like it were replaced to install wheelchair-accessible ramps.

"If you look at the before photos, it was pretty offset, so we wanted to make sure it's a safe intersection," McAdoo said.

For the time being, it may be safe, but Schwartz believes that won't last long.

"The fault is already at work trying to break it and begin to slide it sideways," Schwartz said. "It'll be back."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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